Oh and let me note that I was finding a therapist for my transgender kid, not for me. For any parent out there who is reading this, at the same time you are finding a therapist for your kid, make sure you get a therapist for yourself as well! I did not get my own therapist, but as I mentioned in my last post, my BFF is a therapist and does an excellent job giving me thoughts and ideas. I also believe very strongly that everything is in God's hands - when I get excessively worried or stressed, I pray and hand it over to Him. And I won't lie, I had my fair share of Merlot and an occasional Xanax! LOL!
If I had reached a point where I felt totally lost, I definitely would have gotten my own therapist. It is very good for parents (especially for us women who like to talk through things) to have an unbiased third party with whom we can share our thoughts, concerns, fears, etc. A good therapist will help you help yourself through the emotions.
Ok so back to my therapist search. I'm all about convenience and my goal was to find a therapist close to home so we weren't driving all over the place and who had Saturday appointments so TN wouldn't miss a lot of school. I started with my insurance company website and filtered to find someone close. The site didn't exactly tell you if the person had specific experience with gender dysphoria but I figured I could call and ask. This is the ideal way to search since you are guaranteed that person will take your insurance (cause I'm not just about convenience - I'm all about not spending money unnecessarily).
I found a woman close by who also had Saturday appointments, met with her in advance to discuss everything and thought it would be a good fit. However, after TN met with her a couple times, it became obvious the woman really didn't have any real experience with gender dysphoria or the transgender population. She was essentially trying to do things to convince TN that being a girls isn't necessarily a bad thing. Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't want someone to push my kid to be a boy, but this therapist just didn't have the right experience. We were fortunate that before we decided to "fire" her and find another therapist, she told us she had to move out of the state due to an ailing parent.
For my new therapist search, I did just a straight Google for "gender dysphoria therapist" (and added our state) and that brought me to the Psychology Today website. This site allows you to filter on topics, types of therapists, locations, insurance, etc. I found a new therapist that wasn't very convenient geographically nor was she convenient with her schedule (cause I really wanted Saturdays), but she was good. She had many years experience working with trans teens and college students in a different state. She spoke with me about how being transgender wasn't so taboo in other cultures. Her goal was to give TN a safe place to talk and also act as a conduit to enable conversations between us and TN when TN wasn't comfortable bringing up a topic with us.
One of the first resources the new therapist shared with us was this TED Talk video called "Hey Doc, some boys are born girls" and it really opened my eyes to the thought process of a female-to-male transgender person.
Other things we've worked through with the help of the therapist are things like:
- Haircut styles - once TN got a true boy cut, that kid's confidence shot through the roof!
- Clothing choices (including my reservation in buying TN boys' underwear)
- Name and pronoun changes
- Working with the school on name and pronoun changes
- ...and some others that just aren't coming to my mind right now!
While the therapist appointments progressed, I focused on educating myself and trying to understand what this mental illness is that plagued my kid. More on that next....